So, Valentine’s day is right around the corner.
It’s a lovely time of year when love is in the constant forefront of our minds and conversations. We see all of the cards, chocolates, and flowers for sale- the advertisements of men getting that special someone something unique to commemorate their love…
Now, don’t get me wrong- none of these things are wrong. It’s a beautiful thing to give and receive, to have a reminder that we are loved- not only by our friends and family, but by God who loves us eternally. These are all really good things.
But sometimes it can be easy to reduce that good, beautiful, and hopeful love to things like cards, chocolates, and flowers. I mean, I love chocolate as much as the next girl- but sometimes it can be difficult to remember that love does not revolve around a single day.
Love requires sacrifice.
It is difficult and hopeful, full of heartache and beauty, and it is demanding.
Love oozes mercy.
I know that is probably a super strange way to describe it, but I just want you to picture that for a moment- like a jar that is completely filled- so much so that it cannot possibly contain what it’s holding, so it can only overflow and give of itself.
But what does that look like practically, and not as some made up jar I asked you to picture in your head.
Of course this is not the only aspect to real, authentic love- but wow, it would make love impossible if it didn’t exist.
When I was first thinking of what to write on forgiveness I laughed at myself, because honestly… what kind of authority on this topic do I even have? I mean, I’ve forgiven (sometimes more willingly than others), and have received the grace- an amazing and peaceful gift- of being forgiven myself… but how can I talk about it?
Then I realized forgiveness is not just something to talk about.
It’s not just a random word that has a definition in the dictionary.
It’s not something extra we do when we think someone deserves it.
It’s not something we can fake.
Forgiveness is an action.
Whether we are giving or receiving it. It requires movement and sincerity. And what a more sincere and palpable example of that than the Christ on the cross.
It’s uncomfortable and difficult to think about- our God hung on a Cross visibly showing us forgiveness- that true, difficult, and hopeful love that we are all called to give AND receive.
In my own life I can think of many times where maybe it seemed too hard to forgive and let go- maybe with some of the friends or family members, or even with myself. And there are other times where it was easier for me to understand and excuse someone’s actions and call it forgiveness just so I could pretend it didn’t affect me.
But none of that exactly hit the mark.
I don’t say these things to act like forgiveness is an easy action- but one that’s worth it. Worth the struggle, and achiness. Worth the joy to come… the freedom.
But what does that look like?
It’s not ignoring wrong-doings of others, or just taking them and sweeping them under the rug, but looking at what’s happened, allowing yourself to feel hurt about it, while looking at them as Christ does on the cross- with love, compassion, and hopefulness.
It’s not always rainbows and sunshine, but it is a part of our will, and understanding that love and forgiveness are not always warm feelings, but choices (not easy choices, but choices nonetheless). And with hope and time, you may receive the grace of feeling it more.
And it’s not something we can do on our own. As much as I would like to think I have the capability of being forgiving and totally loving- without Christ, I wouldn't remotely know what that means.
He is our example of bearing a cross completely filled with anguish, but instead of letting that warp his sense of love and hope, he used it as the path to heaven.
So, this Valentine’s day, and everyday, I pray you can look at the cross and see forgiveness, see your worth, see how known and loved you truly are.